Failing a drug test won’t automatically disqualify you from disability benefits, but it can influence your application. The Social Security Administration (SSA) assesses the connection between your disability and substance abuse disorder. 

If your condition qualifies, benefits cannot be denied solely based on alcohol or drug use. Understanding how the SSA evaluates the materiality of substance use is crucial for navigating the disability application process in such cases.

Does Alcohol Or Drug Use Affect Your Disability Application?

The impact of drug and alcohol use on a disability application hinges on whether it’s considered material to your disability. If substance use directly contributes to your disability or hampers recovery, it may affect your claim. 

For instance, if you have COPD and smoke against medical advice, the SSA might deny your claim, as smoking is material to the condition. It’s crucial to recognize federal laws in this context, and the use of federally illegal substances, such as marijuana, might be scrutinized as part of your character assessment.

Can Drug Or Alcohol Use Impact VA Benefits?

Yes, drug or alcohol use may influence Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. While the VA benefits application doesn’t necessitate a drug test, a claim exam could unveil substance use. If a veteran’s drug or alcohol use exacerbates their condition or if they fail to adhere to treatment orders, the SSA may deny or terminate disability benefits. 

The VA recognizes that veterans may develop addictions due to service-related injuries, and it’s noteworthy that participation in state marijuana programs doesn’t impact eligibility for VA benefits.

How Does The SSA Determine Materiality?

The SSA evaluates substance use in a six-step process:

  • If there’s no documented substance abuse disorder, materiality is usually not considered.
  • Assess the disability without factoring in drug/alcohol use, focusing on the ability to work.
  • If DAA is the only impairment, benefits may be denied.
  • If there are other impairments, evaluate if they’d still be disabling with substance use.
  • Examine the connection between impairments and drug/alcohol use.
  • Check if stopping substance use would significantly improve the impairment; if yes, it’s considered material, affecting benefits.

How To Apply For Disability If You Use Alcohol Or Drugs?

Applying for disability benefits with a history of alcohol or drug use can be challenging, but honesty is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Seek treatment to demonstrate efforts towards recovery.
  • Complete the application thoroughly, providing detailed information.
  • Review medical records to address substance use and show its independence from disability.
  • Gather recent records of symptom persistence without substance use.

Get legal assistance to navigate the complexities, handle paperwork, and build a robust case. (Learn more about what disability lawyers do?) 

A Social Security Disability lawyer can significantly handle the disability claim application in a better way.

Faqs On Social Security Disability And Drug Use

If you fail a drug test on disability, it may impact your eligibility or continuation of benefits, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the disability program.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) generally do not provide benefits solely for alcohol or drug addiction. Still, they may consider other disabling conditions caused by substance abuse.
No, the Social Security Administration does not include drug testing in the disability benefits application process. While medical tests may reveal past or current substance use, eligibility is determined based on the impact of your condition on your ability to work, not the results of a drug test. The focus is on the medical aspects of your disability rather than screening for substance use.